How Much Drinking Water Has California Lost to Oil Industry Waste? No One Knows

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Interests diverge over Monterey County’s Measure Z

By , The Salinas Californian Published 6:10 p.m. PT July 25, 2017 | Updated 6:11 p.m. PT July 25, 2017

The controversy over fracking in Monterey County is far from over even though Measure Z which bans it passed during the November 2016 election.

Tuesday’s public workshop on Measure Z at the County Board of Supervisors meeting drew a packed audience. The crowd represented various interests including big oil companies, environmentalists, and community members who shared their concerns and thoughts with the board of supervisors, as the county staff continues to modify what is an early draft of the ordinance.

This is the first public workshop on Measure Z since the community meeting in March, and a revised ordinance is expected to be presented to the board in September. The brunt of Tuesday’s discussion focused on exemptions and to what extent they should exist, and be granted.

As it stands, Measure Z allows the county to grant exemptions to prevent an unconstitutional taking of private property and to protect vested rights. The county can also grant an extension of a reasonable amortization period. While there is an automatic five-year phase out for oil and gas wastewater injection or wastewater impoundment, the time allotted for the “phase out period” can be determined on a case-by-case basis with up to ten additional years.


The public Workshop of Measure Z drew a packed audience at Tuesday's Monterey County Board of Supervisors meeting. (Photo: Amy Wu / The Californian)

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Big Oil’s grip on California

Posted in the Center for Public Integrity:  by Michael J. Mishakemail, February 13, 2017

In America’s greenest state, the industry has spent $122 million in the past six years to shape regulation and legislation. It wins more than you think.

On the morning of June 21, 2011, a worker named Robert David Taylor was walking through an oil field west of Taft, California, when he noticed a plume of steam coming from the darkened earth. Taylor, 54, was a Chevron supervisor who had spent three decades around Kern County’s Midway-Sunset field, the largest and most productive in the state. He and two co-workers had been dispatched to fix the “chimney” near an idled well known to spew scalding geysers of oil, water and rocks as high as 40 feet in the air.

California was in the midst of an oil boom. Crude prices had soared above $100 per barrel, and pump jacks, pipes and power lines snaked across the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, about two hours north of Los Angeles. The spouts at Well 20 that day were the result of an increasingly popular technique called cyclic steaming, in which steam is pumped into the earth to dislodge thick, tar-like crude. After a century of extraction, the easy oil was gone, and this was like filling an empty ketchup bottle with water to get the last few drops. It was dangerous work — the intense heat fractured geologic formations to release oil but it also destabilized the porous earth and created sinkholes.

As Taylor approached the site, the ground gave way. He was sucked feet first into a burbling cauldron of fluids and poison gas. He screamed. A co-worker rushed to reach him with a piece of pipe, but it was too short. Within seconds, Taylor disappeared into the muck. It took 17 hours to recover what remained of his body. 

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Monterey County Must Follow Its Own Code


Measure Z adopted by the voters is simply a continuation of the Monterey County policy, adopted in 1986, Monterey County Municipal Code, Chapter 16.55 – ONSHORE FACILITIES SUPPORTING OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND DEVELOPMENT.  This code prohibits any "onshore facility necessary for or intended to support offshore oil or gas exploration or development."  

The Code reflects a tone of wise stewardship, "Rather than consuming offshore oil and gas resources now, our nation should conserve these resources, since they are non-renewable."

The findings include the threat that "the Federal government has proposed to open up virtually the entire California coast-line to offshore oil and gas exploration and development, including the coastline off Monterey County."

Monterey County Code recognizes significant and negative effects on the community of oil operations, including "inevitable" air pollution; the danger of massive oil spills and routine small oil releases; and the discharge of toxic materials. The Code also notes the economy would be in jeopardy by detracting from the experience of visitors, and “particularly if a massive oil spill occurs, place our tourism industry in danger,”  and threatens the agriculture economy by putting pressure on water and land needed for agriculture.

Read the code here, VERSION: Dec. 16, 2016 (CURRENT) and demand Monterey County abide by their own law.

The prior Board of Supervisors did everything possible to avoid and sabotage County environmental regulation of dangerous oil and gas exploration practices including their most recent effort to interfere with prompt and effective implementation of Measure Z.  These efforts are all inconsistent with Monterey County policy and regulation of dangerous oil exploration practices. 

Here is how to contact the current Board of Supervisors:

District 1 - Supervisor Luis Alejo
168 West Alisal St., 2nd Floor,
Salinas, CA 93901
Phone: (831)755-5011
Fax: (831)755-5876

District 2 - Supervisor John M. Phillips
Castro Plaza
11140 Speegle St.
P.O. Box 787
Castroville, CA 95012
Phone: (831)755-5022
Fax: (831)633-0201

District 3 - Supervisor Simon Salinas
168 W. Alisal, 3rd Floor
Salinas, Ca 93901
Phone: (831)755-5033
Fax: (831)796-3022
Phone - King City: (831) 385-8333

District 4 - Supervisor Jane Parker
2616 1st Ave.
Marina, CA 93933
Phone: (831) 883-7570, (831) 755-5044

District 5 - Supervisor Mary Adams
Monterey Courthouse
1200 Aguajito Rd., Ste. 1
Monterey, CA 93940
Phone: (831)755-5055, (831) 647-7755
Fax: (831) 647-7695


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Our own Measure Z legal firm, Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, represented the Orange Citizens for Parks and Recreation and Orange Park Association in the case. 

The developer attempted to change the property’s open space designation to allow residential development. Citizens’ group qualified their referendum for the ballot and overwhelmingly rejected their Council’s approval.

" “Today’s decision supports the rights of Californians to have a say in local land use decisions, whether through the process of updating a city or county’s general plan or through the initiative and referendum process,” said attorney Robert “Perl” Perlmutter of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, who represented the Orange Citizens for Parks and Recreation and Orange Park Association in the case. “The Supreme Court’s decision clarified key points for property owners, public officials, and the public, and should eliminate confusion moving forward if similar matters arise.” "

Read more here:

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Political Pollution

Measure Z: Fracking, Mayors And Political Prostitutes


Arne Hückelheim (own work) used with permission [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons.

This Measure Z op-ed by Matthew Spiegl, local environmental attorney and HuffPost contributor, tells how Big Oil is polluting our politics AND contaminating our water. Please read and share.

"Political prostitution is not a victimless crime and when it comes to matters of the environment, all too often humankind finds itself the unwilling victim.

Measure Z, an anti-fracking measure in Monterey County, California is a perfect example of how Big Oil preys on small town politicians to push their global agenda ― the extraction of oil and gas at all costs ― unrepentant of the social disruption, political strife and environmental damage it leaves behind.

Chevron Corporation and Aera Energy LLC are pouring millions of dollars into Monterey County in a disingenuous ad campaign."

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